Civic Stadium: 'This is a legacy moment for the City of Eugene'
EUGENE, Ore. - Built in 1938, Eugene Civic Stadium last saw action in September 2009 when the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes beat the Eugene Emeralds, 5-3.
The Eugene Emeralds moved to PK Park the next season.
Since then, the Eugene 4J School District has twice entertained formal offers to buy the park. The district owned Civic but considered it surplus property.
The City of Eugene beat out offers from the Eugene Family YMCA and Fred Meyer.
But a hurdle remains: The City doesn't want to own Civic Stadium. The City's offer bought time for a group of volunteers to pull together the funds to save Civic.
With the deadline approaching, the Eugene Civic Alliance is preparing to make its pitch to the City of Eugene in December.
"People just - their eyes just open up and they say, this is a vision that we need to get behind," said Derek Johnson with the Civic Alliance. "So we're very excited about it."
The Eugene Civic Alliance formed last summer to raise $4.5 million as a downpayment to save Civic.
"We're going to meet that goal," Johnson said. "We've got a December deadline, and we have a lot of irons in the fire."
The money would go to the City of Eugene, which was awarded the bid to buy Civic from Eugene 4J.
But for the deal to stick, the group has to prove to the city it has the backing, the experience and ability to raise millions more to make it go.
This is their vision: a multi-use facility with a restored grandstands, an artificial turf soccer field and a fieldhouse.
"A Kidsports fieldhouse would really enhance our program," said Bev Smith, director Kidsports. The fieldhouse would contain four full-size basketball courts, which also could be used for volleyball and other indoor games.
Such a facility would "invite the community - both our children, our adolescents and our adults - to have a place where they can be physically active," Smith said.
Eugene-area engineer Greg Ausland said that despite the dilapidated look on the outside, his inspection found only 2 out of 360 wooden columns underneath the grandstands that need work.
"Yes, it's viable. It's beyond viable," Ausland said. "I mean it would be a shame to take that material and do anything else but just restore that into a stadium."
And the region's semi-pro and amateur soccer clubs want to play there.
"After Greg's assessment of the grandstand, it's obvious that restoring this into a grandstand for soccer is the way to go," said Dave Galas with Lane United Football Club.
Meanwhile, the Eugene 4J school board is waiting on the sidelines for the City and Civic Alliance to make their move.
"What we hope to get is out of it," said Jim Torrey, the school board chair, "because we've been at it for so long."
Torrey said the board needs to know by early March if this is all going to fall into place.
Some people in the community supported the Y at Civic. Others wanted the shopping and redevelopment a Fred Meyer promised.
All along, there have been skeptics about restoring Civic.
"The hope is there now, and I'd say the meter has swung from skepticism and pessimism to total optimism now," said Jim Watson with Friends of Civic Stadium.
Johnson said the group is more than halfway to the $4.5 million goal. Money raised by Friends of Civic Stadium would pay for a new roof.
The Civic Alliance is set to meet with the City Council on December 8.
With the deadline fast approaching, is Civic Alliance down to its final out?
"This is a legacy moment for the City of Eugene," Johnson said.